Eight years of Kiwi Basecamp

It was 2008, and armed with a short wish list, and with a milestone birthday looming, I set about finding a business which fulfilled this list, and would keep me busy and fulfilled.thus enabling me to be involved in the tourism / backpacker industry, improve my schoolboy French, as well as learn some basics of other languages, and find a building to improve. Up popped Kiwi Basecamp in my ‘search’, negotiations were carried out and within a couple of months I was the proud owner of the building and the business at 69 Bealey Avenue, Christchurch known as Kiwi Basecamp.

Over the next couple of years, my old friend Marcus Wild, who came in as manager and I worked at improving our offering, and putting in systems that would maximise our reach, and thereby give us good occupancy. We immediately hit on a simple yet effective recipe for German style home baked bread, which our team bake daily for your breakfast, and for which Kiwi Basecamp has become well known.

2011 was to be a challenging year. Christchurch was hit by a series of devastating earthquakes, the first being on the 4th September 2010, but the most brutal, resulting in loss of life, and widespread devastation, was on the 22nd of February 2011. The event affected everyone in the city, and with the centre city being ‘locked down’ meant that Kiwi Basecamp was one of the last hostels standing. There were periods of water and power outages which meant working showers were substituted with fruit juice bottles with perforated tops for showering, and a long drop toilet was dug in the front garden, which was mercifully not needed due to a port a loo company coming to our rescue! They were challenging times, but our managers, workers and guests rose to the challenge and adapted to the new, albeit temporary, normal.

During this time, we said farewell to Marcus, who headed off for a new life in Argentina, and hello to Laura McMaster, a native of Scotland, and who was passionate enough about Christchurch, and in time, Kiwi Basecamp, to stay put in this ever changing City.

Kiwi Basecamp was to suffer structural damage during 2011, but this didn’t mean we had to close. In fact we carried on trading until we closed for substantial earthquake related repairs in August 2015. As we were to close Kiwi Basecamp for the best part of five months, we decided to take the opportunity to carry out a comprehensive upgrade, and to take the building to 100% of the National Building Standard. This of course meant a longer closure period and more expense, but having now re opened, and with pretty much a new hostel, we couldn’t be happier. Our one hundred year old plus villa has had quite the makeover!

With a new fit out, we are well positioned to look to the future, and with a 100% earthquake proof building, have confidence in the safety of staff and guests alike, and secure in the knowledge that Kiwi Basecamp will be an enduring presence in the backpacker industry in Christchurch for many years to come.

Chris Voisin
Kiwi Basecamp
New Zealand

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